GIRLS BASKETBALL: Highland 49, Hillcrest 16

Dominant defense leads Huskies past Ravens

Highland sophomore Sarah Burton grabs game-high 18 rebounds, scores 12 points

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 12/28/21

KALONA

Highland girls basketball coach Jody Fink had the Huskies defense clearly focused in their game at Hillcrest Academy on December 21.

The mission was simple and complex all at the same …

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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Highland 49, Hillcrest 16

Dominant defense leads Huskies past Ravens

Highland sophomore Sarah Burton grabs game-high 18 rebounds, scores 12 points

Posted

KALONA

Highland girls basketball coach Jody Fink had the Huskies defense clearly focused in their game at Hillcrest Academy on December 21.

The mission was simple and complex all at the same time. Stop Esther Hughes.

Hughes, a Hillcrest senior, is the third-leading scorer in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference North. She scores nearly 60% of the Ravens’ points.

The strategy worked. The Huskies held Hughes to eight points and 25% shooting in a 49-16 victory.

“You look at Hillcrest. I mean, everything they do is going to go through Esther Hughes,” Fink said. “That is our focus on that, you want to make some people who normally don’t make decisions make those decisions.”

While the Huskies focused their defensive energy on Hughes, Highland sophomore Sarah Burton destroyed the Ravens on the boards. In addition to scoring a game-high 12 points, Burton had a season-high 18 rebounds for her fourth consecutive double-double. In her last four games, Burton is averaging 16.5 points and 13 rebounds a game.

Burton also had four blocked shots and two assists in the win over Hillcrest.

The Huskies (5-4) dominated the boards, outrebounding the Ravens (1-8) 55-27 and holding Hillcrest to just 8 offensive rebounds.

“I thought we did a decent job on the boards. We can always do better,” Fink said. “That’s a big one. Give her [Hughes] one shot and done, and that makes it a little bit easier.”

Hillcrest was held to just two points in both the first and third quarters. Dani Laughlin, a Highland junior, had a game-high 3 steals.

Highland led 19-8 at halftime, but put the game away after that with a 13-2 run in the third quarter. The Huskies scored another 17 in the fourth quarter.

“We came out with a little more intensity in that third quarter,” said Fink, who got his 294th career win on the same night that Hillcrest boys basketball coach Dwight Gingerich was honored for winning his 702nd in 40 years. “We didn’t play real well, we didn’t play with a lot of intensity in that first half. We were just going through the motions. That’s something we’ve got to improve on. We’ve got to come out and bring that every time instead of just here and there because that’s going to come back and catch you at some point in time.”

Laughlin added 11 points and junior forward Jessica Kraus scored 10 points and had 7 rebounds for the Huskies, who won for the third time in four games. Katelyn Waters, a junior, had a game-high 6 assists.

A pair of freshmen stepped up for Hillcrest. Malia Yoder had 5 rebounds and a team-high 3 assists, and Lydia Beachy had 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

Highland hosts Pekin next Tuesday, and Hillcrest plays at Lone Tree.

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